Causes Of High Blood Pressure
For most people with high blood pressure, theres no obvious cause. This is called primary hypertension or essential hypertension. Some things increase your risk of getting this type of high blood pressure. These include:
- your age the risk increases as you get older
- having someone in your close family with high blood pressure
When Should You Call Your Doctor
One high or low blood pressure reading by itself may not mean you need to call for help. If you take your blood pressure and it is out of the normal range, wait a few minutes and take it again. If it’s still high or low, use the following guidance.
anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out .
or seek immediate medical care if:
- Your blood pressure is much higher than normal .
- You think high blood pressure is causing symptoms such as:
- Severe headache.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- Your blood pressure measures higher than your doctor recommends at least 2 times. That means the top number is higher or the bottom number is higher, or both.
- You think you may be having side effects from your blood pressure medicine.
Common Causes Of Extremely High Blood Pressure
Being overweight, consuming a high-fat diet, smoking excessively and drinking alcohol, and specific medication can also raise the risk of hypertension.
One major cause of hypertension is genetic predisposition. The probability of developing hypertension is higher in adults with a family history of high blood pressure or diabetes, for those with kidney disease, lupus, hyper or hypothyroidism, and obstructive sleep apnea.
High blood pressure may occur in pregnancy. There are special considerations for children with high blood pressure.
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Youre Experiencing Regular High Blood Pressure At 20+ Weeks Pregnant
Many moms-to-be experience slightly elevated blood pressure while pregnant, a condition called gestational hypertension. However, blood pressure readings of 140/90, especially after 20 weeks of pregnancy, can point to a pregnancy complication called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is thought to be caused by abnormalities in the extra blood vessels that develop to send blood to the placenta. Left untreated, it can lead to serious health complications for both baby and mother, including preterm birth.
To monitor for preeclampsia, your doctor should measure your blood pressure regularly during your prenatal checkups and check for excess protein in your urine . While preeclampsia can develop slowly, it can also onset suddenly. If you are monitoring your blood pressure at home and notice levels regularly above 140/90 OR if you are experiencing symptoms such as severe headaches or changes in vision, contact your doctor immediately and go to the emergency room.
When Is Blood Pressure High Enough To Go To The Hospital
Seek immediate medical help if you record blood pressure readings over 180/120mm Hg. Besides the high-pressure readings, you also must see the doctor if you experience severe headaches, blurry vision, and nose bleeding. Call your doctor if you usually have a normal blood pressure range, but it begins to go above this range occasionally.
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Low Blood Pressure Symptoms
Also know as syncope. Its a temporary loss of consciousness typically related to insufficient blood flow to the brain.
2. Dizziness or lightheadedness
Dizziness can be caused by many things including low blood pressure. Its the feeling of being unbalanced or woozy.
Its feeling of uneasiness and discomfort and gives you the urge to vomit.
Lack of fluids can cause low blood pressure. Sometimes, its another problem causing the dehydration. The following can cause dehydration:
- If youre taking blood pressure medication, overuse of diuretics
A lack of sharpness that results in the inability to see in detail.
6. Lack of Concentration
When its difficult to focus on one thing.
7. Rapid/Shallow Breathing
Taking more breaths than typical in a given minute.
A lack of motivation or energy to perform physical or mental tasks.
Loss of interest in performing activities. Staying home or preventing interactions with others.
10. Pale Skin
The typical skin tone disappears, and the color of the skin is lighter.
11. Clammy Skin
When the skin becomes cold or feels wet or sweaty.
- The most common symptoms of low blood pressure are dizziness and lightheadedness. The lower the blood pressure, the greater chance of fainting.
- Many times the symptoms are caused by something other than the low blood pressure. When the underlying cause is identified and treated, the low blood pressure typically corrects itself.
Are You At Risk For A High Blood Pressure Emergency
Nearly half of adults in the U.S. have high blood pressuremeaning, greater than 130/80 mm Hgor are taking medication to control hypertension, placing them at greater risk for a high blood pressure emergency.
Men are at greater risk than women for a high blood pressure emergency. Other risk factors for a hypertensive emergency include advancing age, diabetes, high blood cholesterol levels, and/or chronic kidney disease, according to research presented at the 2020 meeting of the American Heart Association. Medication interactions may also cause a hypertensive emergency, Dr. Huot explains.
In many instances, these emergencies occur when someone stops taking their blood pressure medication. Most people who experience a hypertensive emergency have known that they have high blood pressure in the past, but they fall off their medication management wagon and their blood pressure progresses, Dr. Huot says. Its not out of the blue.
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About High Blood Pressure
Every time your heart beats, it pumps blood under pressure to the rest of your body through your arteries. You need some pressure to keep your blood moving. But if its always too high, it puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. Other parts of your body, such as your brain and your kidneys may also be affected by high blood pressure.
The medical name for high blood pressure is hypertension.
Sometimes high blood pressure is caused by another health problem you already have. But most of the time theres no obvious cause. For more information, see our section on causes.
Blood pressure is measured at two points.
- The highest level . This is when your heart muscle contracts and pumps blood out through the arteries.
- The lowest level . This is when your heart relaxes between beats and fills with blood.
Your blood pressure is shown as two numbers, measured in millimetres of mercury . A reading of around 120/80mmHg is seen as healthy above 140/90mmHg is considered high.
High Blood Pressure Diagnosis
Hypertension is often called a “silent killer“. Approximately a third of people¹ with hypertension don’t know they have this condition because it may have no warning signs or symptoms. When symptoms do occur, these may include early morning headaches, nosebleeds, irregular heartbeat, and changes to vision or the inner ear. Severe hypertension can cause fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion, anxiety, chest pain, and muscle tremors.
The best way to know whether you have hypertension is through regular health check-ups. The doctor will refer to your medical history and conduct a physical examination to rule out or detect hypertension. You can also purchase a blood pressure machine to monitor your pressure at home if you are hypertensive or have a family member with high blood pressure.
Blood pressure measurements fall into different categories. For ordinary healthy adults, the pressure should be less than 120/80mmHg. If your readings are higher or lower than the healthy limits, the diagnosis can be as follows:
Elevated high blood pressure: Any value that ranges between 120/80 and 130/80mm Hg.
Stage 1 hypertension: 130/80 to 140/90mm Hg
Stage 2 hypertension: 140/90mm Hg and above
Hypertensive emergency: 180/120mm Hg and above. If you record these values, you should go to the ER immediately as this is life-threatening.
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Why Do Care So Much About Blood Pressure
At the end of the day, our blood vessels are the critical plumbing system of the body that keeps blood flowing to all our organs. We will spare you a trip back to physics class, but some of you may remember how the resistance in a pipe affects how effectively fluid can flow through those pipes. A blood pressure that is too high or too low will affect how well our vessels can deliver blood to the rest of our body.
Most patients are familiar with the way chronically elevated blood pressure can be detrimental to our health. Our critical organs are all affected when our blood pressure is persistently elevated over time. This can lead to a spectrum of diseases coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, kidney disease the list goes on. This is why doctors want to pay close attention to helping their patients maintain a healthy range of blood pressures.
When To Go To The Er For High Blood Pressure
Whether you struggle with high blood pressure on a regular basis or have a one-off high reading, it can be difficult to know when to go to the ER for high blood pressure . But since a hypertensive emergency can lead to organ damage, its important to know when to worry about a blood pressure reading and make the trip to the ER.
Fortunately, there are guidelines you can follow. Here is a list of definitive examples of when to go to the ER for high blood pressure, along with answers to top FAQs regarding high blood pressure.
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Low Blood Pressure After A Massive Heart Attack
A massive heart attack is a life-threatening medical emergency a massive heart with low blood pressure can result in death very quickly without immediate treatment. If you have symptoms of low blood pressure with heart attack symptoms, it is truly the kind of medical emergency where every second counts. You have a very narrow window of opportunity to save your life. If you or your loved ones have these low blood pressure symptoms with a massive heart attack, you need to call 911 right away.
Here are those symptoms:
- Feeling dizzy and lightheaded after one of the following:
- Heavy chest pain in the middle of the chest
- Left arm pain
- Tightness and pressure on your chest
- Left shoulder pain
- Sudden cardiac arrest
What Will The Er Do For High Blood Pressure
When you arrive at the ER with high blood pressure, the first thing your physicians will do is try to bring your blood pressure down. Typically, this is done with either oral or intravenous medications. Your doctor will also assess your heart and other organs for potential damage and begin treating any complications that might have arisen. Depending on the severity of your hypertensive crisis, these damages may range from minimal to severe.
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How To Stop Blood Pressure Getting Too Low
Low blood pressure itself is generally not a cause for concern until it gets too low and begins causing symptoms. Managing any issues that influence blood pressure may help prevent these numbers from dropping too low.
For example, people taking high blood pressure medications should monitor their dosage and blood pressure to be sure their numbers do not drop too low.
If their blood pressure starts dropping lower than usual, they should contact a doctor. The doctor may want to adjust the medication or check for interactions with anything else the person may be taking.
Managing other individual risk factors from underlying conditions may also help prevent blood pressure from getting too low.
- wearing compression stockings
Doctors may also recommend changes in some medication, such as adjusting medications for high blood pressure if they lead to dangerously low blood pressure.
Doctors will discuss any and all treatments with the patient in each case, and their exact recommendations may vary.
When To Go To The Er With High Blood Pressure
Gan Su, DO, an emergency medicine physician atMedical City Arlington, says you should come to the ER if you have a pre-existing condition of high blood pressure and:
- Your blood pressure is 10-20% higher than your normal
- You have other symptoms, including:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Mahesh Thiagarajah, MD, aMedical City Healthcare emergency medicine physician, offers additional signs that you should go to the ER with high blood pressure:
- Top number is above 200
- Bottom number is above 100
- You feel weak or faint
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Seeking Emergency Medical Attention
If a person experiences low blood pressure along with concerning symptoms such as a loss of consciousness, mental confusion, and a weak, rapid pulse and breathing pattern they should seek immediate medical attention.
In the emergency room, doctors may ask questions about a persons medical history, medications they may be taking, or any infections or accidents they may have had.
They may ask about or check for symptoms. They may also administer tests to check heart rate and blood pressure, and imaging tests to check the internal body and organs for other issues.
Even if a person is experiencing mild rather than severe symptoms along with low blood pressure, they should still seek guidance from a doctor.
Doctors may want to monitor the symptoms and test the blood pressure themselves to make any necessary diagnosis and administer treatment.
Aside from these events, a person may have low blood pressure and be in otherwise good health.
What Do Your Blood Pressure Numbers Mean
Blood pressure is a measure of the force of blood against the walls of your arteries. Blood pressure readings include two numbers. The first number is the systolic pressure . This is the force of blood on the artery walls as your heart pumps. The second number is the diastolic pressure . This is the force of blood on the artery walls between heartbeats.
If the top number stays high, or the bottom number stays high, or both, that means you have high blood pressure . It’s normal for blood pressure to go up and down throughout the day. Your doctor will give you a goal for your blood pressure.
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Symptoms That Warrant A Trip To The Er
It can be hard to tell when your best bet is to rush to the emergency room.
When you wake up in the middle of the night with an alarming symptommaybe it’s a high fever or splitting headacheit’s hard to know whether to rush to the emergency room or not. You don’t want to overact, but you definitely don’t want to underreact either. So how do you know when that stomach pain needs to be treated ASAP or if that numb feeling can wait until morning to deal with? We spoke to Ryan Stanton, MD, a board-certified emergency physician and spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians to find out.
What Kind Of Treatment Will I Get At The Er For Hypertension
If you are diagnosed with a hypertensive episode, you will be given oral or intravenous medications to try to bring the blood pressure down, says Dr. Meier. Damage will also be assessed. If the heart is involved, or if youve had a stroke, additional treatment will be given to address those complications.
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What Is A Hypertensive Crisis
When your blood pressure suddenly and severely surges, you experience a hypertensive crisis. However, this situation is quite rare and while some people will experience severe symptoms, others will not.
A hypertensive crisis occurs when the blood pressure reading goes up to 180/120mm Hg or more. Usually, you may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, change in vision, back pain, numbness, and difficulty speaking.
You may also experience fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion, anxiety, chest pain, and muscle tremors. It may cause chest pain, confusion, and possibly stroke. This case requires immediate medical assistance, so call 911 if you experience such symptoms.
On the other hand, a hypertensive urgency occurs when you record blood pressure readings of 180/120mm Hg or higher but doesn’t cause severe organ damage. This situation is less severe, as you can bring your blood pressure down within a short time by taking the right medication.
Are There Other Symptoms To Watch Out For Along With A High Blood Pressure Reading
Yes, you should watch out for things like chest pain, blurred vision, headache, nausea, pain in the jaw or arm, anxiety, shortness of breath, seizures, confusion or a general lack of responsiveness. Any of these, coupled with a high blood pressure reading, are cause for emergency response, says Dr. Meier.
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How Do You Stabilize The Person’s Blood Pressure What Drugs Do You Use
Two liters of fluid have been run in 4.4 pounds – the same amount as a large bottle of soda. The blood pressure refuses to move higher, and more needs to be done. You’re not supposed to treat a number, since the clinical picture is more important than getting the patient to look good on paper. Still, a systolic blood pressure of 70 is too low and it may mean that the organs in the body are lacking sufficient blood flow and oxygen to maintain aerobic metabolism. If he goes anaerobic for a prolonged period of time, then the acid-base balance in the bloodstream will cause everything to spiral downhill and the battle will be lost.
Norepinephrine bitartrate is a drug that acts like adrenaline on the body, and will cause the blood vessels to constrict or narrow, to support the blood pressure is started intravenously. It will also put a strain on his heart, not necessarily something we want to do since he has had heart problems, but there isn’t much choice.
More fluids… more oxygen…more time. The blood pressure creeps up to the mid-80s…success? He’s more alert, and the catheter that was placed in his bladder is starting to show signs of urine. That means his kidneys are receiving enough blood supply to produce urine, and they are sensing that there is starting to be enough fluid in the body to allow that to happen.
The next ambulance call comes in.